Ben Mendelsohn (Killing Them Softly, The Dark Knight Rises) is set to co-star opposite Kyle Chandler in Netflix‘s 13-episode psychological thriller from Damages creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler and Sony Pictures TV. Written and …
Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election, but he ruled the Sundance Film Festival tonight. In a scene you wouldn’t expect to see at the Robert Redford-founded fest, the Republican and head of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee showed up unannounced at the premiere screening of Mitt in the Utah capital. The lobby of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Centre filled with cheers and applause as the former Massachusetts governor, his wife Ann and several of their children arrived. “I invited him, but I didn’t know if he was going to come,” director Greg Whiteley told me this evening. He added that Romney had not yet seen the film, so the helmer doesn’t know if he’ll like it. (UPDATE: Just before the screening began, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert praised Sundance and Redford for their contributions to the state and then introduced Romney in the audience, saying, “We all wished the election had ended differently.” The room of 250-plus attendees rose in a standing ovation while the Romneys waived from their seats.)
Related: Hot Trailer: Netflix Docu ‘Mitt’
In stark contrast to the often-stiff Romney on the campaign trail in 2008 and 2012, the compellingly up-close and intimate documentary chronicles the much more live-wire and warmer man during his two runs for the White House. The film plays the festival in both Salt Lake and Park City before debuting on Netflix on January 24. The streaming service acquired theatrical and TV rights to the 92-minute pic by director and Sundance vet Whiteley on December 9, the same day Mitt was announced as a Documentary Premiere at this year’s festival. Able to get access after approaching the Romney family directly, Whiteley — who previously helmed New York Doll and Resolved – followed the candidate and those close to him from Christmas Eve 2006 in Park City to Election Night 2012.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom take up Charter Communications’ $61.3 billion bid for Time Warner Cable; the potential impacts of an appeals court ruling throwing out FCC net neutrality rules; a stalling home-entertainment industry and Best Buy’s bad holiday. They also look at the surprising shakeup at the top of Yahoo, coming as it does just a week after the company’s big CES shindig. Now at least one much ballyhooed hire departs 15 months later after arriving and there are reports that at least another top executive is out.
Kyle Chandler To Star In Netflix’s Thriller Drama Series From Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler & Sony TV
EXCLUSIVE: Sought-after TV leading man Kyle Chandler is off the market for this coming pilot season. I’ve learned that the Friday Night Lights alum, who already had received a ton of pilot offers, has signed on to star in Netflix‘s 13-episode psychological thriller from Damages creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler and Sony Pictures TV. Written and executive produced by the Kessler brothers and Zelman in their follow-up to the acclaimed FX/DirecTV legal thriller starring Glenn Close, the untitled series centers on a family of adult siblings whose secrets and scars are revealed when the black sheep oldest brother returns home. Netflix and Sony would not comment, but I hear Chandler will play the married middle brother who takes care of the family. The deal comes after a lengthy courtship, with the project landing Chandler for the role that he had been considered the prototype for. Filming is slated to begin in late March in the Florida Keys.
That’s a real possibility, some analysts say today — and appears to be one reason for the 4.5% drop in Netflix’s share price in early trading. There’s a target on the streaming video service’s back following the U.S. Court of …
Netflix Has 76,897 Genres To Tag Users’ Tastes, But Doesn’t Know Why Raymond Burr Is Their Favorite Actor: Report
Netflix‘s recommendation engine could influence entertainment’s future more than many execs realize. That’s why anyone who cares about the business should check out Alexis Madrigal’s fascinating article — “How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood” — posted today by The Atlantic. The company “has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable,” the article says, giving Netflix “a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented.” The people it uses to tag content work from a 36-page training document. “Every movie’s ending is rated from happy to sad, passing through ambiguous. Every plot is tagged. Lead characters’ jobs are tagged. Movie locations are tagged. Everything. Everyone.” They come together to produce 76,897 genres including “Scary Cult Mad-Scientist Movies from the 1970s” and “Feel-good Foreign Comedies for Hopeless Romantics.” Others note whether a film is an Oscar winner, or has a strong female lead. While the possibilities are limitless, as a practical matter “there are no genres that have more than five descriptors” — and the most popular ones have three or two. The information influences recommendations more than users realize. “We’re gonna tag how much romance is in a movie,” VP of Product Todd Yellin tells Madrigal. “We’re not gonna tell you how much romance is in it, but we’re gonna recommend it. You’re gonna get an action row and it may have more or less romance in it based on what we know about you.”
Ray Richmond is an AwardsLine contributor.
Just when we think we’ve finally got them figured out, those wacky folks in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association continue to surprise us in the Golden Globe Awards television races. They remain as unpredictable as ever in the nominations for the 2014 awards, with perhaps the biggest surprise being that Showtime’s Homeland – after winning the top drama series prize two years in a row — wasn’t nominated at all this time. In fact, Homeland generated precisely zero noms after having swept the series and acting categories a year ago, as did its stars and last year’s winners, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.
Deadline Financial Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look ahead to the six big questions facing big media after a big 2013, as potentially huge changes loom in the coming year. What does 2014 hold for Netflix, Apple, cable TV consolidation and the broader pay-TV industry, local broadcasting and theatrical exhibition? Lieberman puts on his fortuneteller hat and looks at what paradigms could be shifting.
One in a series of Deadline stories that look back on 2013 and ahead to 2014.
People in and around the media business may look at 2013 as the calm before the storm. The Dow Jones Media Index, up nearly 39% this year (as of mid-December), is the highest it’s been in at least a decade while stock prices are at or near all-time highs for industry leaders including CBS, Comcast, Discovery Communications, Disney, Netflix, and Viacom. Many execs say that the good times will keep rolling in 2014. Additional ad revenues will pour into the market for the Olympics and mid-term elections, and media companies are making headway in their efforts to adjust to social media and new technologies. But next year moguls may have to work harder than they have in years for their unconscionably high pay. They face a possible return of merger mania, new efforts by tech giants to divert advertising and subscription dollars, and skittish shareholders poised to sell at the first sign that company earnings can’t fulfill their outsized expectations.
Here are a few of the specific questions on the minds of industry insiders as they look ahead to 2014:
Will Netflix tap the brakes on its content spending spree?
Hollywood’s becoming addicted to Netflix’s money. After a few years of license deals it owed creators of its streaming content $6.5B at the end of September, with 43% due in less than a year – and it has vowed to commit nearly $3B in 2014 for TV shows and movies. Those are huge numbers for a company that’s expected to generate $4.4B in revenue this year. Netflix can justify the outlays because it’s growing like Topsy. The number of domestic households that subscribed to the $7.99-a-month service grew 25.8% to nearly 30M in the 12 months ending in September. That fueled a 300+% increase in the stock price in 2013 making Netflix more valuable than Sony in investors’ eyes. “At some point [Netflix] could emerge as a monopolistic player in its [subscription video on demand] niche that would allow it to increase pricing, subs, and leverage in content negotiations,” Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible says, summarizing the bull case. But bears warn that Netflix will find itself overextended if sub growth slows, Amazon or Hulu gain momentum, and especially if cable companies aggressively move to a usage-based pricing system for broadband. Producers shouldn’t “assume Netflix and Amazon will bail them out and buy everything they make, forever,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Junger notes. “Eventually somebody has to lose.” With several shareholders urging CEO Reed Hastings to show Hollywood a little less love, studios in 2014 will have their antenna up for any signal that indicates a shift in Netflix’s spending plans.
Minutes after the Sundance Film Festival announced last week that it would have the documentary’s world premiere, Netflix said it had picked it up. Director Greg Whiteley had intimate access to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination from 2006 through his Election Night defeat. …
Now this would be a cameo that would render even Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood speechless. Reed Hastings today publicly hit up President Obama to appear on House Of Cards, in which Spacey plays the loquacious, ambitious and ruthless U.S. congressman. A little less than two months before Season 2 of the show debuts, the offer from the Netflix CEO came during a photo op at the White House this morning as Obama met with Hastings and other tech company CEOs and bosses to discuss the troubled Obamacare website and the government’s national security surveillance efforts. According to the White House pool report, the President was overheard asking Hastings, “I’m just wondering if you brought advance copies of House of Cards?” The report adds, “the exec laughed and invited Obama to do a cameo on the series.” The President also joked that Spacey’s Underwood is “getting a lot of stuff done” and “I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient” in the real-life DC. That drew a big laugh from Hastings, Apple’s Tim Cook, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and the 12 other tech bosses in attendence. Listen carefully and watch the exchange between Obama and Hastings:
Obama isn’t the only prominent DC resident to be a fan of the show. House Of Cards has been a favorite of many politicians since its February 1 debut this year. So much so that Spacey even starred in a House Of Nerds video mocking DC at this spring’s White House Correspondents Dinner.
Jehane Noujaim’s The Square snared the Best Feature trophy at the IDA Documentary Awards earlier this month, just days after it made the Oscar shortlist. The film, which also is up for a Spirit Award, chronicles the Egyptian protest movement from the 2011 overthrow of military leader Hosni Mubarak through …
Netflix is credited with helping Breaking Bad become a hit on TV, and the AMC drama became one of the first signature titles on the streaming service, helping introduce binge viewing. The pair’s successful symbiotic relationship is now being extended with the upcoming Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul. Netflix and Breaking Bad producer Sony Pictures Television have closed a deal for the spinoff series for all of the streaming service’s territories. In the U.S. and Canada, the complete first season of Saul will be available to Netflix members after its season finale on AMC Networks in 2014.